Last night, we had a sweet tryst with the Planet Express gang. NYCC screened the fourth direct-to-DVD movie Into The Wild Green Yonder for hundreds of Futurama fanatics.
Watching "Into the Wild Green Yonder," the fourth and final installment in Futurama's mostly excellent series of direct-to-DVD releases, I was reminded of a Simpsons commentary (or several), where the writers mention what a joy it is to watch the show with an audience of fans at conventions. Hence, viewing "Yonder" in a packed auditorium full of sci-fi geeks made the film feel like an old favorite you catch on Adult Swim at 3 AM. Time will tell how it holds up on future viewings. "The Simpsons Movie" felt like a season five classic when I saw it at a sold-out midnight screening. Yet its quality diminishes ever so slightly on subsequent HBO viewings.
But for now, I'm pleased to report that "Into the Wild Green Yonder" is a fantastic conclusion to a DVD series that produced only one real dissapointment. (That being D&D-themed dullfest "Bender's Game.") "Yonder" meets all the prerequisites for a quality Futurama episode. Endless scifi winks/nods/rip-offs, ingenious robot-related visual gags and the usual sprawling cast of beloved characters. The Hypno-Toad's blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo was met with rapturous applause. And Zapp Brannigan received such a warm welcome you'd think Billy West was sitting on stage waiting to moderate the cast and crew panel. (Alas, there was no panel.)
And as always, since the Futurama writing team is stocked with more Harvard math majors than Texas Instruments, there's a couple of science references clearly meant for about .01% of the audience. Personal favorite: a space-zamboni buffs the rings of Saturn, while a sign in the background reads "Mind The Keeler Gap." That being the 42-kilometer wide gap in Saturn's A-ring, not a nod to Futurama/Simpsons scribe Ken Keeler. Hey guess what, Keeler majored in Applied Mathematics at Harvard University!
Hmm, what am I forgetting? Oh right, the plot. Just a little trifle about 12% of the Milky Way in danger of being vaporized to make way for an interstellar "miniature" golf course. I put miniature in quotes because it just doesn't seem right to call a King Kong themed mini golf hole in space that would have to be many, many (many) miles long "mini." The King Kong hole also bears an uncanny similarity to the one located in Springfield's "Sir Putt-A-Lot's Merrie Olde Fun Centre," where Bart and Todd Flanders once battled and also where Bart was in fact conceived. (Please refer to Simpsons classics "Dead Putting Society" and "I Married Marge" for more information.)
So yeah, the fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance, and of course the only people around to save the day are the crew of the Planet Express. I'd go into more detail, but why spoil the fun when you can see for yourself when "Into the Wild Green Yonder" drops on February 24th.
The only question left to ponder is whether this is really the last we'll see of Futurama. 88 episodes and four feature-length films leaves a lot to cherish, and it's pretty damn plentiful compared to other TV cancellation tragedies. (Firefly, Arrested Development, Mr. Show...shall I continue?)